Contemporary Moral Problems
Directions: Write a 1500 word essay on the topic of abortion (you are permitted to make it as long as 2000 words). This is not a research paper. It is a critical essay. You must base it on the assigned readings (some or all of them), and on class lectures and discussions. Build your essay by drawing upon at least one of the quotations given below. Feel free to defend your own view, or instead defend no view at all. Instead critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of competing views. Whatever you chose to do, make sure you advance your thesis by relating it directly to the course content. A free-association expression of your own options unrelated to the philosophical positions and arguments discussed will not earn you a passing grade.
Let me be clear, you will in no way be graded negatively for any stance you adopt. As I have remarked to you in the past, I don’t care what you think. I care why you think it.
Your essay is due Tuesday 10 March by 10:30 am in the Philosophy Dept office (SSB 213). Please also submit an electronic draft through Turnitin.com as arranged on our d2l site.
A warning: If your essay does not speak specifically to the material and the topics we discussed in class, I will assign your essay a value of 0. I will not accept a generic paper on the topic of abortion, one that, say, offers a critical discussion of Thomson’s paper or something of the sort. One can pay someone to write such a paper. I want your paper to reflect your learning in our class. I’ll be completely uncompromising about this.
Here are the quotations:
From Roe v. Wade, IX. B:
We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.
Mary Anne Warren’s “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”
Can it be established that genetic humanity is sufficient for moral humanity? I think there are very good reasons for not defining the moral community in this way.
From Don Marquis’s “Why Abortion is Immoral”:
The future of a standard fetus includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and such which are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children. Since the reason that is sufficient to explain why it is wrong to kill human beings after the time of birth is a reason that also applies to fetuses, it follows that abortion is prima facie seriously morally wrong.
From J.J. Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion”:
…the right to life consist not in the right not to be killed, but rather in the right not to be killed unjustly.